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Shop Update for 2/24/17: New Shop Floor

The Renaissance Woodworker - 58 min 57 sec ago

So Much Room for Activities!!!

I’ve wanted a better floor in my shop for years. I put down my ghetto peel and stick vinyl tiles back in 2006 in an attempt to make it feel less like a garage and more like a shop. But they offer nothing in the way of comfort and definitely don’t make it feel like anything but a garage. So when Rubber Flooring Inc had a sale, I made the leap and got my new partially reclaimed tire rubber floor! And now it not only feels like a shop but I can bounce my chisels off the floor and not have to regrind the bevel.

Stuff Related to this Stuff

I brought the Dust Right Collector back into the shop and hung it in a previous update if you want to revisit that.

The Shop Update goes LIVE next Thursday night!

Show up and win NOTHING!!!
Categories: Hand Tools

Passion for Boxes

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - 4 hours 12 min ago
I suppose I am into making boxes. I just love those containers and the thought of polishing and embellishing them.

They make great gift items too and I have never failed to get a pleased smile in return. That makes it all worthwhile.

My favourite boxes are made of dovetails; gives me good practice and makes for a strong box that will hopefully endure for decades.

Last week I finished putting together a small video I have been painstakingly making over winter. I've put it up on Youtube and can also be viewed below.

Hope you like it.

Indranil Banerjie
24 February 2017

Categories: Hand Tools


Accidental Woodworker - 6 hours 26 min ago
...... where luck gives an unexpected and pleasant happening. For me that was an almost empty post office.  I had to stop there after work to mail out the irons and when I pulled into the parking lot I got the last spot. Not a good omen.  I resigned myself to standing in line for quite a while as I went in. Then the serendipity thing said hello because there was only one person in front of me. And the person at the counter was leaving as I got in line. I was in and out in about 10 minutes.

When I got home there were four packages waiting. Lo and behold, 3 of them were for me. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Usually all multiple packages go to the wife, even if I'm expecting some too.

new coat hook from Lee Valley
I bought three of these and got them with free shipping. I will easily be able to hang 3 coats from it.
 I especially like the top two spread eagle hooks.

how it is secured
This is screwed to the wall where you want the coat hook to live.

the coat hook slips over it
There is a set screw at the top and another one at the bottom. These two secure the hanger to this part. There is no visible means from the front as to how the hook is hanging from the wall.  When I checked the shipping on this morning, UPS supposedly didn't have the tracking number in their system yet.

this is going away
 I have been telling myself for years to replace this with something else. I have finally gotten around to it but not quite yet. Maybe this weekend and if I leave them on the workbench that will up the chance of it happening.

spindles came in too
I checked on these 3 times today and each time all I got was that the order had been received.

reprint I got from Hyperkitten
I wasn't going to get this until I read a blog post about some else buying one and fantasizing about going shopping in the same year as the catalog. After I read that I ordered this one and another.

fantasy catalog #2
I don't think it's a reprint
I didn't get these for type studies but just for looking at. I wish I could shop and buy the tools in here at the prices listed. A Stanley #1 bench plane sold for $1.65 in catalog 102

got another fenced casing plane
This one is 5/8" and it completes it for me. I now have 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", and 7/8" sizes. I couldn't resist this because of how clean this looked. Most of the ones I see have a crack or a split in them on the outboard fence. That part of the plane takes a lot of stress. I have one plane (7/8) with a split I still haven't glued yet.

5/8 on the heel
I tried this on 3/4" stock and I couldn't get the plane over the edge - it was too thick for the plane.

1/2" thick stock
It planed a partial profile on this. The iron was barely sharp enough to plane this poplar and I struggled a bit doing it. Missing from this profile is the shoulder at the top. I will have to plane some stock down to 5/8" and try this plane again. First I will sharpen and hone the iron.

1/4" brad point bit is too small
I drilled a test hole in poplar and it is too small for the spindle tenon. A few gentle taps with a mallet didn't improve the fit neither.

1/4" forstner bit worked
Gallery rail dry fit came out good. I will glue this in place after the rest of the holder is done. I want to ensure that galley rail will fit inbetween the sides. I cut the length of the gallery rail 3/8" shorter than the ID of the sides.

close to the notch
The wood movement is front to back so I could be tight on this if need be. I want it with a 3/16" spacing on both ends.  I also have a chip missing on this end to deal with. I planed a bevel on this edge until the chip disappeared. The bevel may become a round over later.

planed a bevel on the back stretcher
The holder is ready to glue up but I didn't do it tonight. I'll do it tomorrow when I will have my full hour in the shop and no errands to run.

got the pipes moved
The plumber who did this said that he doesn't do copper piping anymore. Everything is plastic now. He put in two shutoffs here and there are two ball valve shutoffs in the cellar too. I'll be doing the sink hook up which will go very fast. No soldering, no fussing, just screw the faucet lines to these and I'll be done.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Henry Ford made 15,007,033 Model T cars. In what year did the VW beetle surpass it?
answer - in 1972 (the last beetle was made in 2003 for a total production of 21,529,464)


She Works Wood - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 9:03pm
I had a chance to make some more frames with some inlay this time.  Mahogany with yellow heart inlay.
Categories: General Woodworking

Estonian Spoons and Bowls

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 6:13pm

Fig. 73. Wooden Spoons: 1. Spoon from Muhu, Mäla village, ERM A 290:150; 2. Spoon from Karja, Koikla village. EM 16957.

This is an excerpt from “Woodworking in Estonia” by Ants Viires and translated by Mart Aru.

Until the beginning of the century, spoons and ladles for home use were generally produced by the peasants themselves. The preferred timber was that of birch, hard pieces of birch root and sometimes juniper. To prevent these articles from cracking, they were frequently boiled in hot water (they were also known to have been dried in the bread oven).4 The bowl parts of the Estonian spoons (as well as the Latvian and Finnish ones), are of elongated shape, differing in this respect from the Russian round-bowled spoons.5

Often the spoons were covered with carved designs (Fig. 73). The Russian spoon with the round bowl, often pointed, became known in Estonia in the course of the 19th century mainly through being introduced by men returning from military service from Russia. Only toward the end of the century did the Russian spoon appear in the shops, or they were bought from by hawkers. The following is from Räpina: “Later, about 40 years ago [= ca. 1900] then no longer country spoons were made for eating. The Seto people started to bring and sell wooden spoons. The Seto exchanged spoons against grain and rags. There was a factory in Pihkva (Pskov) that made them. It was better to eat with factory spoons than with spoons made by ourselves. There was thick paint on them and there was no need to wash them so thoroughly and the color stuck well. Country spoons remained only for making of butter and cooking. Old people, who had not been accustomed to eat with the other spoons, ate a long time with self-made spoons.”6  In the first decades of the 20th century metal spoons put a full stop both to country spoons as well as the Russian wooden spoons as tableware. Wooden spoons remained in use only in cooking.

It is worth mentioning that although the Estonian and Russian wooden spoons were quite different, the word “lusikas” (south Estonian “luhits, luits”) is actually an old Russian loanword (Old Russian “льжька,” Russian “лoжка”), as a result of which it has been believed that Russian spoons were spread already quite early as an article of trade among Baltic-Finnic people, and because of it the original old names have been forgotton. One of such old names could be “koost,” which denotes a wooden spoon on the western shore  of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa (Karuse and Varbla). That Russian spoons were actually found in the Baltic counties at an early time is confirmed by a find of typical Russian spoons in Riga, in all likelihood from the 13th to the 15th centuries.8  To a certain extent the previous position is in a certain contradiction with what people have stored in their memories – which, as we have seen, link the appearance of Russian spoons at a rather late date. It is also interesting that the word “lusikas” (spoon) has in its turn spread into the speech of Russians on the other side of Lake Peipsi as “лузик”9  (it may be to distinguish it from the different spoon with a longish bowl which Avinurme home industry people could have sold on their commercial travels in the 19th century on the other side of Lake Peipsi).

The words used for ladle, “kulp” or “kula” (the latter is a west Estonian term used to describe a ladle with the bowl at an angle, used to scoop milk from the urn), are probably of Baltic–Finnicorigin.10  On the other hand the south Estonian term “kopp” originates from the Lower German “koppe.”11  The same word is applied in other parts of Estonia to mean a wooden bowl with a handle. In the Võru dialect and in other eastern parts of the country the wooden bowl with a handle, especially the one for use in the bath, is known as “korets, karits” (Russian “korets”).


Hollowed bowl, Põlva, Kaapa village, ERM A 227:86.

Bowls (Fig. 74) were usually made of softwood – linden, aspen, alder, sometimes also from birch. Usually they were made from a stem cut in two, crosswise, although lengthwise was sometimes preferred. The latter were not as durable and had a tendency to crack. Tools used in the manufacture of homemade bowls were the scooping axe, the chisel and the draw knife. However, in the 19th century most bowls were already being produced by turnery, and the bowl ceased to be a homemade article (see the chapter on Turning). There are only a few such bowls in museum collections, as by far the greater number of bowls have been turned. This shows that in the 19th century making of bowls was mostly the duty of turners, and no longer belonged to the circle of the peasant’s home carpentry.

 e.g. KT 101, 9, Räpina. 5  Such spoons with an oval bowl occur in the Slavonic area in Central Europe (Opole) since the 10th to the 12th centuries.(Hołubowicz, Fig. 122:1 p. 277). Wooden spoons used in the 15th to the 16th century are relatively similar in their shape to Russian spoons of the 19th century. (Рабинович. Из иcтoрии быта, Fig. 10:7. p. 51). KT 101.9–10 (Joosep Hermann, b. 1866), cf. also EA 15, 116 Avinurme; KV 78, 124 Jõhvi. Mikkola, p. 45, 66; Kalima, Slaavil, san., p. 120. Šnore, plate II, 5, 8. 9 Kalima, Ostseefinn. lehnwörter, p. 157. 10 Хакулинен I, p. 103; Ariste, Hiiu, p. 176. 11 Saareste p. 245.

Meghan Bates

Filed under: Woodworking in Estonia
Categories: Hand Tools

Scrub plane II

Woodworking By Hand - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 5:12pm

Here it is another scrub plane just terminated: beech body and wild olive sole (unfortunately this wood is ending......I'll have to ask again Michele (who lives in Puglia) for supplying me with another little amount of it. 

This time I tried to add a beading moulding to plane sides and I have to say I am satisfied. I cut them with a Stanley 50, equipped with its narrower beading cutter.

The front handle is inserted by a sliding dovetail joint, coupled with a round tenon in its bottom
A mortice and tenon joint has been used for fixing the rear handle, behind the blade. In both cases I used drawbored dowels for reinforcing the joint.

The building tecnique is based on cutting and gluing the plane body, so is easier to obtain the throat and cut into the sides for accomodating the wedge and blade.  


You can see a little hole on the front. Our woodworm friend (died!) loves wild olive, providing to the plane a vintage look. 

Categories: Hand Tools

Williamsburg Snapshot – Making A Late Baroque Chair

The Barn on White Run - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 4:18pm

In the next four  postings I will be highlighting the contributions by the CW craftsmen to the Working Wood in the 18th Century gathering.  They work under the burdensome (?) expectation of excellence on our part, as for years they have not only put on the show as the impresarios but are expected to be stellar in their on-stage performances.  It’s a lot of weight on their shoulders, and they pull it off every time!  You can tell they are comfortable with audiences, I don’t mind folks watching me work, but the contant interruptions they endure must be maddening.  It disrupts any work flow and extends a project’s timeline by a logarithmic factor.

First up of the Colonialista soloists was Brian Weldy, demonstrating the steps to designing and building a late Baroque (aka “Queen Anne”) chair in walnut.  As with all the presentations I found much to be learned from the project, although it is unlikely I will ever build one.  Nevertheless Brian’s dealing with the sumptuously curvilinear form was instructive.

His layout of the serpentine center splat was particularly of interest to me as I have a pair of 16th Century Chinese horseshoe chairs on my bucket list.

He called on Kaare to provide a second pair of hands for the assembly of the chair seat rail and legs.  I was fascinated by the wooden blocks left on the serpentine seat rail to provide striking anf clampning surfaces.  These would be carved off once the assembly was completed.  I thought it was an ingeniuos and efficient solution to a problem.  Maybe everyone else already knew it, but it is a technique now residing firmly in the memory bank.

With the chair assembled Brian addressed the seat construction and lofting, and his time was done.

The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws

Chris Schwarz's Pop Wood Blog - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 3:18pm

Flush-cutting saws offer an amazing promise: It can cut a dowel or tenon flush to its surrounding surface without causing any damage. The truth is, however, no matter how awesome your flush-cutting saw is or how skilled you are, things can go wrong. The most common problem is the saw can drift slightly. And with a flush-cutting saw, any drifting can be disastrous. The teeth can dive into the work […]

The post The Truth About Flush-cutting Saws appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: Hand Tools

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Covington, Ky.

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 12:55pm


Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is hosting a Hand Tool Event at Braxton Brewing in Covington, Ky., on March 10-11 (details from Lie-Nielsen are here).

We will have a booth at the brewery both days and will have our storefront open on Saturday only (not Friday; nor Thursday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our storefront is a seven-minute walk from the brewery.

On Saturday night we are organizing an outing to Rhinegeist brewing in Cincinnati where we shall play Hammerschlager – a competitive nail-driving game. The winner of the evening (likely the one person left standing) will receive a letterpress hammer poster (long sold out and coveted). We’ll bring the stump, the hammer and the nails.

The event at Rhinegeist will start about 8 p.m. We recommend you go to Eli’s barbecue at Findlay Market to get your dinner beforehand and walk it a block north to Rhinegeist to eat it. (That’s what we’re going to do.) Note that Eli’s closes at 9 p.m. Tarry not.

I hope that we will have some other special stuff to show or sell, but that all depends on trucking and production schedules. More details, soon.

Last year’s show was fantastic. Braxton has excellent beer. Covington has a lot of great places to eat and drink (more on those later on). And yeah, Cincinnati is awesome, too.

Hope to see you there!

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Customer Projects

David Barron Furniture - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:19am

Here is a nice whiskey cabinet from Dale in Spain made from Mahogany. It was the first time he had used one of my dovetail guides and he is understandably pleased with the results. That looks like a two bottle cabinet with enough room for four glasses, very sociable!

Daniel from Ireland sent these pictures of boxes he made to house his tools. The first one is for his dovetailing equipment and the second is for his nice saws.
That reminds me I must sort out the storage for all my Japanese saws, since moving work shop and loosing wall space they are all laying together in a drawer, not good.

Categories: Hand Tools

Making an ash splint pack basket

Steve Tomlin Crafts - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 7:40am
Ash splint pack basket detail Some images from the process of making my latest ash splint pack basket. Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

Use Epoxy for Filling Gaps & Bark Inclusions – Martin Goebel

Popular Woodworking Editors Blog - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 7:15am

Along with 64,000 or so (at least as of today) other people, I follow Goebel & Co. Furniture on Instagram. The furniture pieces coming out of this St. Louis-based shop are well-built and beefy, with imaginative designs that in many cases make use of live-edge tops that are stabilized with epoxy. (And take a look at some of the table bases – they’re pretty astounding!) So when we were looking […]

The post Use Epoxy for Filling Gaps & Bark Inclusions – Martin Goebel appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Categories: General Woodworking

Western Saws or Japanese Saws for Beginners?

Giant Cypress - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 3:08am
Western Saws or Japanese Saws for Beginners?:

Bob Rozaieski:

I am by no means an expert on Japanese tools. I own a few, and I have had the opportunity to try many different Japanese saws, chisels and hand planes. However, I do not work with them enough to consider myself worthy of giving you advice on them.

Bob then proceeds to show that he’s a fibber by making a lot of smart observations about Japanese saws. He also made me blush.

(Bob, if you’re reading this, for some reason my RSS reader lost your feed. I fixed that, and I’m having a good time getting caught up on your blog.)

Experiment: Making My Own Cold Bleached Linseed Oil

Toolerable - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 2:52am
I was always happy with standard boiled linseed oil (BLO). It's got a lot of great things going for it: it's widely available at any hardware store, it looks great as a finish on it's own, it can be combined with other things to make different finishes, it makes a great wipe-on finish, etc.

My only beef with it for a long time is the smell.

It turns out that BLO isn't boiled at all. Nowadays, raw linseed oil (which works as a finish, but takes weeks to dry making it unhandy) is mass produced by adding metallic chemical drying agents such as manganese and cobalt which through the magic of chemistry makes the linseed oil dry relatively quickly.

A quick internet search produced a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for some BLO, which includes this:

Effects of Overexposure:
Inhalation:  Vapors may cause irritation of the respiratory tract.
Skin:  Prolonged or repeated skin contact may cause irritation or dermatitis.
Eyes:  Contact with eyes may cause burning and tearing.
Ingestion:  Ingestion of large amounts may cause gastrointestinal irritation.
Chronic:  Not Available.

Overall, it looks pretty safe. But not totally. I wouldn't drink it.

Then, I was ruined by Dictum. They sell a Swedish cold-bleached linseed oil.
Linseed oil from Dictum. Also, some great smelling turpentine balsam, and some natural tung oil from Denmark.
This stuff is great. No chemicals, it smells great, and it works fantastic! After a little bit of research, I think I know how this was made, and I am going to try to replicate it in my apartment.

What could go wrong?

The first thing I found was this great YouTube video by Joe Besch:
His website led me to a page on Tad Spurgeon's website. Mr. Spurgeion's passion is oil painting, and shares on his site how oil paints made by the old masters were made from linseed oil.

I figure if this is good enough for the old masters, it should also work for woodworking.

Enough blah-blah. Let's get to work:

First, instead of pressing my own flax seed, I ordered a liter of pure, quality raw linseed oil from El Barco, a local paint shop in Valencia.
Raw linseed oil.
Once it arrived, I went for a walk down to the beach. Joe Besch's video shows him adding sand, salt and marble dust to his mixture, but after reading Tad Spurgeon's notes, I am convinced that plain sea water and some sand from the beach should work great. These additives, from what I can figure, are to help purify the final oil similar to running water through a sand filter purifies the water.

I'm not sure, and if you would like to try it, I'm sure you'll have success using only tap water.
Believe it or not, you can buy sea water at a local grocer for 3.99/liter!
It was a bit stormy, but my trek was successful.
beach sand and seawater. And who-knows-what.
There was some dreck in the water, so I filtered it out with a paper towel.
Filtering the sea water.
Then I washed the sand by filling the jar with tap water, fixing the lid and shaking like crazy. I dumped the water out and repeated until I didn't feel like doing that any more.
The clean sand.
Likely, I used way too much sand. I think much less would have worked just as good. Once I dumped the liter of linseed oil into my two liter jar over the sand, I figured it was too late to take some out and we'll just have to see how it goes.
Next I dumped in my raw linseed oil.
Then, I topped off the jar with sea water. I would have liked a 50-50 mix of oil and water, but this is where we are. I think it should do something.
Oil on top, the water sank below it, and the sand is on the bottom.
Next I shook the jar like crazy until everything was mixed.
After the mixture was shaken. Not stirred.
Over the next couple of hours, I shook it up again. Joe Besch suggests three times.

Then, let it sit in the sun.
After an hour or so, you can start to see everything separating nicely.
After an hour.
And the last photo is where we are this morning, after about ten hours of rest.

If you are wondering what you are looking at, you can clearly see everything settling in layers. The bottom is the sand, and the little black bubble looking things above that is actually clear water. It is heavier than the oil so it sinks to the bottom.

The yellow band is a layer of fat we've just rendered out of the raw linseed oil. I suspect this is the stuff that prevents raw linseed oil from drying quickly.

The brown layer on top is the good stuff.
The next morning.
No earlier than tonight, and likely tomorrow, I'll extract the top layer using a baking syringe that I bought for the purpose. The idea is to get the pure stuff off the top without any of the unwanted stuff below.

I'll follow Joe Besch's advice and do this process again with my refined oil. I imagine after a couple times of this, I should get some pretty nice quality stuff.

The last step is to let it rest in the sun for some weeks or months, and the yellow color will evaporate away.

For my purposes, it probably doesn't need to be crystal clear, but it will be fun to see how far I can take this.

There is likely to be quite a bit less than one liter of oil after this process, but what I have should be good.

I'm not sure if this will be worth it, but it is fun to see if it will work.

Keep an eye on this blog in the future, I plan to post on the results of this experiment over time.
Categories: Hand Tools

paper towel holder pt IV.......

Accidental Woodworker - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 12:59am
True to my word, there will only be a final part V. That one will be the painted, ooh and aah, glamour shot part. I am still waiting on the spindles. When I checked on them this afternoon, they had received the order. That is it. No shipped it out, no tracking number, just we got your money and when we get around to it, we'll ship it.

mind is made up now
Unfinished box on the top, the new linseed oil and wax finish on the middle box, and the bottom box has several coats of shellac. From this vintage point, the middle and bottom box look a like a lot.

side view
The only thing that stands out to me on these, is the bottom box has some shine, the middle one has a bit of color and a flat look, and the top one is bare bones. I'll be putting the wax finish on the top box. I am still rather pleasantly surprised that there is no discernible odor the middle box. I'm leaving the middle box closed up tonight. Tomorrow I'll do a sniff test on the inside of the box to see if it stinks.

changed the pattern a bit
It wasn't a dear diary entry change but a change nonetheless. Where the curve ended and dipped down vertically is the place I changed it. Instead of the 90° drop I put it at an  angle. I wasn't so keen on the abrupt end and change on the first one.

To trace it out on the crest rail board, I lined up the lines on the two on the left side. I flipped it and did the right side. Using a half pattern ensures both sides should be reasonably the same.

cut the crest rail on the bandsaw
cleaned up with rasps
I need to do a bit more on the right side but overall, it looks ok.

the top of the side
I wanted the crest rail to die out above the top of the sides. I don't like the look of the parts diving down below and into the rabbet.

finding the gallery rail center
The rail is 13 and 5/16" long. I came in 6 1/2" in from each end and made a mark. I squared those two marks and then made two diagonals between them. That gave me the center of the gallery rail L/R and top to bottom.  After I got the center line, I used dividers and laid out the spacing for 3 spindles on either side of center.

found center of the shelf
I transferred the layout from the gallery rail onto the shelf. I am pretty sure that the tenons on the spindles I ordered are a 1/4" but I'll be patient until I get them.  I will measure them and then drill the holes for them.

FYI for me too
After I found the center on the gallery rail I should have drawn the center line on it. I could have then marked the spindle spacing with the dividers on the center line. The bigger hole is from the awl on the center point and the little hole to left is from the dividers. Oh well maybe I'll remember it for next time.

I had to run few errands after work tonight so my shop time was short. The big surprise was the post office. It was empty when I stopped in to get some flat rate boxes. I know that when I go to ship out the irons it'll be packed. Tomorrow I'll get back to finishing up the tequila box.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
How many Grammy categories are there?
answer - there are 30 fields with 83 categories in them

Keepsake or Keepsafe Box

Paul Sellers - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 12:00am

From my Journal Tuesday 21st February 2017 A good day thinking through the prototype, which will be a keepsake box that you can keep just about anything you want in from letters to chisels depending on what you hold dear. I finally developed the awkward corner joint and that went well enough without making it …

Read the full post Keepsake or Keepsafe Box on Paul Sellers' Blog.

Categories: Hand Tools

A George II Walnut Serpentine Chest – Part Four

Pegs and 'Tails - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 8:41pm
I don’t have any images of the rear of the original walnut chest; however, roughly thirty years ago I restored a chest of remarkably similar quality and construction (though of mahogany) which had an oddly asymmetrical three-panel pine back. I … Continue reading
Categories: Hand Tools

It’s not your fault

Heartwood: Woodworking by Rob Porcaro - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 7:45pm
cheap tool, great tool
The most crucial impediment to learning woodworking skills that I have observed when advising woodworkers is the use of cheap, inappropriate, or poorly prepared tools. It is amazing how often student woodworkers – and this really includes all of us to varying degrees – are baffled by poor results from bad tools. Worse yet, the […] 0
Categories: Hand Tools

Final Day of the Roman Workbench Build

The Mortise & Tenon Magazine Blog - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 5:51pm

Today, Mike and I got the benches done and spent a good amount of time exploring their use. First, we had to cut those protruding tenons flush. Since I broke my flush cut saw a while back, I opted to use my crosscut saw for the task. I considered getting fancy and shimming up off the benchtop top to prevent the saw’s set from marring the top but decided against it. I’ve always trimmed bigger tenons like these with a regular crosscut and rarely nick the wood in any considerable way. The way I do this is by placing pressure on the back of the saw while carefully starting a kerf. I work around from all sides until the kerf meets the whole way around. As tricky as it sounds, it’s not. The kerf of my saw didn’t nick the top once and the cuts were darn near flush. Actually, one was perfectly flush which ironically made it harder to plane nicely without digging into the top. The other three had a hairline of thickness to plane and went down flush with less fuss.

After the tenons were cut free, we bored the holes for the ¾” holes for planing stops. The stops were shaved from ash leftover from my leg stock. I made sure mine were as consistent as I could (so that they would be tight at all height adjustments) but Mike discovered some interesting benefits to pegs that were less than straight. Very interesting discussion ensued about better designs for pegs. I’ll leave that for Mike to blog about but I think he’s onto something really good here. He also discovered that if he was planing a board that was a couple inches longer than necessary, he could drill a hole on it’s end and place it over the peg, pinning it in place. This freed him to plane without any bouncing around. He could even turn around and plane the other direction without moving the board. Genius!

As soon as I had my stops in, I had to take it for a test run. The first few minutes of planing were surprisingly tiring because I was relying primarily on bicep power and had almost no body momentum behind the plane. We experimented with ways to overcome this and found some interesting postures that made the operation quite effective. The most powerful planing was when we stood up and put a knee on the board. It actually was the easiest planing I think I’ve ever done because my whole body was over the work. I haven’t tried it for extended periods of time, mind you, but I think it has real promise. This was vindication after my first few moments of laboring hard using only my arm strength.

We spent a good amount of time discussing hole spacing for edge planing. We ended up figuring out a pattern based on a few different sources: the Woodworking in Estonia benches, the aprons of Nicholson’s bench, and one of Jonathan Fisher’s benches. I can expound on the logic behind our pattern at another time but I will say that we tried to figure out the way to have the least holes and most flexibility with the stock we envisioned working with. After using it a bit, I think we nailed it.

Then we got out the rope. This was something we had wanted to try ever since we saw it in Woodworking in Estonia. A surprising number of the benches showed a loop of rope wrapped over the work piece and the craftsman holding it down with his foot. It’s almost like a poor man’s shaving horse. When we first tried it, I had the loop around the whole width of the bench and it didn’t hold very well. Then we wrapped a piece of leather around the rope. Still didn’t hold well. It seemed the downward force was spread to far side to side. Feeling defeated, we looked closer at the images in the book and realized that the rope was always fed through holes in the top, enabling the rope to be pulled down close to the work piece. This was the charm. It held great for chopping mortises. We were really impressed. Super easy to adjust and rugged holding power.

So my bench is complete. Mike still has some complex features to add… as soon as he finds the perfect crooked branch for the task. He’s also planning on working out a quick-to-install shaving horse apparatus. It should be very handy.

We really had no idea of what to expect with this bench form. Although it’s not better than a tall bench for some operations, I think it just might be better for others. We will continue to explore workholding on these benches and report it all here. This form has serious promise. We really think you should build one, no matter what kind of woodwork you do. Woodworking in Estonia has proven that there are no limits to the creativity of a craftsman when it comes to workholding solutions. When we set out on this bench build we vowed to explore unfettered by any convention (modern or otherwise). This exploration has expanded our thinking about the craft as well as our respect for the craftsmen that have come before us.


For the other posts about this build, click here.

If you’re looking to see more of this bench in action and read about the research behind it, you can read Chris Schwarz’s article in Issue Two.


Categories: Hand Tools

revisiting an old favorite

Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 3:11pm

I’ve been trying to finish off this chest with 2 drawers lately. I’m close, but have to go to North House Folk School soon, so the last bits will be in 2 weeks. Today I spent making the last 12′ of moldings – out of a total of over 45 feet! Rabbet plane first…


…followed by hollows & rounds….


Late in the day I still had some daylight. I have been using the last 30 or 45 minutes each day to hew some spoons for evening carving…but today I split some reject joinery-oak and started shaving the rear posts for some ladderback chairs. Must be because I’ve been thinking of Drew Langsner lately…

Here you can see the chest with a couple of clamps holding the drawer’s moldings in place. Shaving the chair posts was like old times…

Here’s the inspiration – one of the last chairs from Jennie Alexander’s hand…and Drew’s book The Chairmaker’s Workshop. I had to look up a few things to remind me of what I was doing.


The last time I made these chairs was some shrunk-down versions for when the kids were small, December 2009. These chairs are put away in the loft now, outgrown…




I hope to bend the posts Friday, then leave them in the forms while I’m away. Hopefully there will be some chairmaking going on in March…





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